How to Reduce Swelling Due to an Injury and Increase Range of Motion
Whiplash is a commonly used phrase for neck pain injuries in general, but it is most frequently associated with car accidents and vertical compression injuries, such as diving into a swimming pool. People suffering from whiplash may experience swelling, a decreased range of motion, tightness in the neck; muscles may feel hard or knotted with possible shoulder pain, back pain and headaches.
In many cases, pain may take up to several hours to appear in the neck area. Concussions can also occur. A person should visit a chiropractic doctor right away if any pain or discomfort is present. Oftentimes within the week, the symptoms can become overbearing with the most common complaints being of neck pain, headaches, and back pain.
Just remember RICE!
Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation.
Rest the areas of the body that are injured so as to not aggravate your condition.
This is a way to reduce the swelling and pain after an injury. Use a covered ice pack on the area that is inflamed. Ice helps the blood vessels to constrict allowing less blood flow to the affected area and therefore decreasing swelling.
I would like to emphasize using Ice. I often hear patients tell me they used heat. Heat may feel good and causes relaxation but causes the blood vessels to dilate. This causes more blood to that area therefore increased swelling. Ice should be used for no longer than 20 minutes every two hours. This should be done for a few days after a car accident or other types of injuries.
After the swelling has gone down, usually about 72 hours, it is now time to use heat or warm towels to increase blood flow. At this point, doing this releases fresh blood containing oxygen and nutrients into the area, which will help to accelerate the healing process, loosen muscles and increase flexibility.
Compression and Elevation
If the body part is for example the ankle, elevate the ankle to the height of your heart. Use the ice on the ankle and compress it with an ace bandage. This helps reduce the swelling. Keep the ankle elevated to reduce the blood pooling.
As soon as it is tolerable, slowly move the area that is tight/sore working on range of motion.
When one gets injured the body wraps the affected area with additional tissue in order to protect it, however over time that tissue becomes hardened and can start to immobilize the area when it needs to be moving and getting back to functionality! This is why it is important to stretch so one can keep that flexibility. It is important to come in directly following an injury in order to stop this early unwanted tissue from building up.
I cannot count how many times I have seen a patient come in weeks, even months following an injury saying
“I was just hoping it would go away”!
The most important way to help preventing serious injuries to your body is to pay attention to how we feel. If you feel any pain or discomfort while doing an activity, it is a warning that there could be something wrong. Just stop what you are doing and take it easy. Pain is there for a reason, be aware of it.